There are over 1,600 billionaires on the planet. However, only nine of these 1,600 are black. With stories ranging from rags-to-riches to people who were born into wealth, this list supplies you with all the knowledge as to how these nine people built their empires. Many of them have made their fortunes in the telecommunications industry, while some are even building their own cars! Don’t let these stories intimidate you. Instead, gain inspiration from their journeys. You never know what you can do when you put your mind to it.
9. Mohammed Ibrahim — Net Worth: $1.1 billion
Our first African-American billionaire on this list is a man who has made a vast fortune in the telecommunications industry. Across the pond in Great Britain, Ibrahim founded a company called Celtel. Mainly, Celtel acts as a mobile phone operator in Africa. As Celtel grew, the value of the company also increased. Finally, in 2005 (after seven years in business), Mohammed sold Celtel for a whopping $3.4 billion. Two years later, Ibrahim set up a foundation in his name to assist governance in Africa. Now sitting at a value of $1.1 billion, it seems as if Ibrahim is doing positive things with his money. As with the foundation, he has also created what is called the “Mo Ibrahim Index”. This index helps evaluate a nation’s performance in various sectors (economics, government, etc).
8. Abdulsamad Rabiu — Net Worth: $1.2 billion
Slightly nudging out Ibrahim for the eighth spot on this list is a Nigerian businessman who has focused his efforts on trading commodities. Rabui started out in 1988 when he established Bua International Limited. Bua imported rice, flour, and even iron and steel. Just two short years later, a huge company known as Delta Steel Company (which was owned by the government) contracted Bua to supply them with raw materials. This gave Bua a much needed jumpstart. Rabiu’s company continued to grow, expanding to importation of steel and iron ore. 2008 was an excellent year for Rabiu, as he commissioned the second-largest sugar refinery in the heartland of Africa. He has set up the Bua Foundation and loves giving back to the community, including the construction of the Centre for Islamic Studies at Bayero University Kano.
7. Folorunsho Alakija — Net Worth: $2.5 billion
The first woman to make an appearance on this list, Alakija‘s tale of fortune is a bit different from the others. Originally scoring a position as executive secretary at Sijuade Enterprises in Nigeria, she actually switched jobs to work at First National Bank of Chicago. As she worked at the bank, Folorunsho also started a fashion company called Supreme Stitches. The company had a meteoric rise to fame and power, and Alakjia again branched out. This time, she focused on the oil game. Securing an oil prospecting license (OPL), she got to explore a 617,000 acre-block of land off the coast of Nigeria. Combine all of these lucrative endeavors, and you get one rich woman. Like the previous billionaires listed above, Alakija loves to give back to the community.
6. Oprah Winfrey — Net Worth: $2.9 billion
This woman was one of the major influences on talk television, and perhaps the world, with the debut of The Oprah Winfrey Show on September 8th, 1986. Audiences were won over with Winfrey‘s small town charm and ability to confront tough issues without resorting to exploitation. Along with her strength of character, Oprah also scored some massive interviews with superstars from around the globe. One of Oprah’s most memorable interviewees was Michael Jackson, which was watched by over 35 million people. As her television show continued to grow, Oprah began to explore other avenues. She created a magazine, titled O: The Oprah Magazine, and has co-authored five books. With massive television contracts, publishing, and even a short-lived radio show, it’s no wonder Winfrey has amassed a fortune. She has given a lot of her money away, including $400 million for educational purposes.
6. Patrice Motsepe — Net Worth: $2.9 billion
Tied with Oprah Winfrey, Motsepe is yet another mogul of the mining and import business. Focusing on the mining of materials such as platinum, nickel, and chrome, African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) is Motsepe’s company and main venture in life. Early in his life, he worked for a law firm, and began his mining business by hiring people to clean the gold dust out of mines. Soon, he seized an opportunity to buy up many mine shafts (gold prices were extremely low at the time, so mine shafts were cheap). A bit of controversy surrounds Patrice’s wealth, as it has been claimed that his ties to South Africa’s political parties have filled up his wallet. This claim is backed up by some due to his sister’s marriage to the Transport Minister. She is one of the wealthiest women in South Africa.
4. Isabel Dos Santos — Net Worth: $3.7 billion
Isabel Dos Santos is a woman of many faces. Some know her as a woman working at a recycling business, others as the creator of a nightclub, and finally there are those who know her as a multi-billionaire. Dos Santos had a privileged childhood, being daughter to Angola’s president. Once she grew up, Isabel did join a German recycling company. Then, she started a trucking business. From here, it was into telecoms and then into nightclubs. Everything she touches seems to turn to gold. She also served as project manager engineer for the cleaning of and disinfecting of the city of Luanda (the capital of Angola). After all of this success, she still had the business smarts to invest in many business ventures, all of them successful. If you need something done, this is definitely the woman who can do it.
3. Mike Adenuga — Net Worth: $4.6 billion
Sharing similarities to our #9 entrant, Mohammad Ibrahim, Adenuga has also found his fortune in the telecommunications industry. Before his foray into the telecoms industry, Mike struck it big in the oil industry. He received his first drilling license in 1990. Shortly thereafter, he struck oil in the Southwestern Ondo State. Besides striking a lot of oil, Mike’s oil company became famous due to the fact it was the first indigenous company to strike oil of that magnitude in the state. Mike became richer and richer through his oil gains. This wealth gave him the opportunity to create another company. This time, it was a telecommunications company. Globacom launched and instantly attracted many subscribers. Today, that number of subscribers is over 24 million. However, all of this does come with a price. 2009 proved to be a bad year for Adenuga, as he was accused of money laundering. He left the country and fled to London. Today, he serves as the Grand Commander of the Order of Nigeria.
2. Mohammed Al-Amoudi — Net Worth: $15.3 billion
The last two entrants on this list are head and shoulders above the other seven in terms of wealth. Amassing a staggering $15.3 billion, Al-Amoudi owns several businesses in the fields of oil, hotels, operations, and finance. His construction company, Mohammed International Development Research and Organization Companies (MIDROC) actually built an underground oil storage complex for Saudi Arabia in 1988. Within MIDROC, Mohammed owns many of the types of companies listed above. Along with his heavy investment into Ethiopia, he also owns oil refineries in Sweden and Morocco. Not only does Al-Amoudi focus on oil, he has also prodded around in energy development. He even has a line of hotels called Addis Ababa Sheraton. Regarding Ethiopia, he owns 70% of National Oil Ethiopia. Currently, he is helping develop Saudi Arabia’s first car, the Gazal-1.
1. Aliko Dangote — Net Worth: $25 billion
Aliko Dangote runs away with this top ten list. Easily trumping Mohammed Al-Amoudi’s $15.3 billion net worth, Dangote is worth a massive $25 billion. What business could create that much revenue? Turns out commodities such as sugar and cement are a lucrative business. It’s especially lucrative if you then sell the sugar you have to places such as soft drink companies, breweries, and confectioneries. Dangote’s company, the Dangote Group, owns many smaller sub-division companies, including Dangote Cement, Dangote Sugar Refinery, and Dangote Flour. Along with a number of other entrants on this list, Aliko has forayed into the world of telecommunications. One of his companies is creating fiber optic cables to supply all of Nigeria.